Whether or not to grant ‘amnesty’ has been a contentious policy issue in a wide range of settings, from human rights violations to draft avoidance to library fines. Recently, the idea of amnesty has come to structure many debates over irregular immigration. While amnesty’s meaning is usually treated as self-evident, the term in fact signifies in a variety of normative directions. This article employs amnesty as an optic to examine accountability questions that structure normative debates over irregular immigration in liberal states. It distinguishes among conceptions of amnesty emphasizing forgiveness, erasure and vindication, and argues that developing a vindicatory account of amnesty is both particularly difficult and particularly necessary in the immigration setting.